Growing In Christ
After you have been saved and accepted God’s saving grace then what? The bible says, you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 3:18) You may be wondering what of this means, well that is why it is critical for us to break down and understand growing in Christ for practical life application. We are called to know God more by understanding & accepting His word. Our spiritual journey will not always be an easy one, for the simple fact that this world is guaranteed to challenge your faith. Growing in Christ means our lives look different because of the new spirit and changed mind that we receive upon accepting Christ into our lives.
"Getting saved is not about praying a prayer and then continuing to live our lives as though nothing happened. No, when God enters our lives, we are changed from the inside out."- Francis Chan, Disciples Making Disciples Book
In the third chapter of the book of John, Jesus is having a conversation with a Jewish Leader named Nicodemus. Jesus explains that, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God. Nicodemus then asks, what do you mean? How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again? Jesus replies, I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. (John 3:3-6) Here we see that apart of accepting Jesus into our lives, is also being born again. We believe that Jesus died for our sins, then we accept His spirit into our hearts, and it is the Holy Spirit that gives us new life. The bible says, the Spirit of God, Who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, He will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you. (Romans 8:11)
- Write down what it means to be born again in Christ.
The Lord also tells us, I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations. (Ezekiel 36:26-27) The Lord is promising to give us His own Spirit, and because of this He no longer sees us in our old life of sin. He now sees us as pure and forgiven through the sacrificial death and resurrection of His Son Jesus. The bible says, there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to Him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. (Romans 8:1-2) And with this freedom and new life comes a new purpose.
- Write down what is means to have a new life in Christ.
To show God’s new purpose for us, Jesus prayed this prayer for you and me. He prayed, I’m not asking You to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. They do not belong to this world any more than I do. Make them holy by Your truth; teach them Your word, which is truth. Just as You sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. And I give Myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by Your truth. I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. (John 17:15-20) Jesus has saved us, but He is praying that we may become sanctified by God’s word. This means, that it is the Lord’s will for us to become His Holy people, set aside for His special use in this world. But this process of sanctification or being made holy, can only take place by accepting and believing God’s word in our lives. For all Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
- Take a moment and think about how it feels that Jesus personally prayed for you in John 17. Write down key things you see that He specifically prayed over you.
- Write down why is it important to understand that All scripture is inspired by God.
Without accepting God’s word as the ultimate authority and truth in our lives, we cannot grow in Him. Because once we submit to God’s word, we realize that we no longer have the right to direct our lives, and begin following the new path God has set before us. We have been bought with a high price, paid with the blood of Jesus for all of our sins. Now our lives belong to God, for it is He who saved us from spiritual and eternal death. The Apostle Paul explains this process of being made holy as he writes, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2) So we are not only to submit to God, but also to turn from anything that is disobedient to His word.
- Write down how we are made holy by God.
Sanctification is a process because we first learn the things in our lives that offend God, then we begin the process of cutting them off. We do this not out of fear of punishment from God, but out of love and thankfulness for all He has done for us. For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time—to show us his grace through Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 1:9) And as a result of separating ourselves from sin, we become more sensitive to the Spirit of God in us. We were once filled with things of the world, but now we are being decluttered and refilled with the awareness of God. From this comes to ability to now feel God’s presence in our lives, and to hear His voice directing us. God’s Spirit is right inside of us, but when we are clouded by sin He feels distant. But thank God that we are not alone in this faith walk! Jesus promises, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:20) Jesus also knows just what each of us are going through with sin, as He has overcome every temptation known to man. But when He was tempted, He fought it with God’s word. While hungry after fasting for forty days He was tempted by Satan to eat, but Jesus declared, No! The Scriptures say, People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. (Matthew 4:4) Jesus is showing us that it is the word of God that gives us true life, not the things of this word. And just as children enter this world and need food to grow, we too begin our spiritual walk with God as children, and need His word in us to grow. That means hearing it, having faith in it, and then applying it to our lives. Then we will see spiritual growth, and God will do mighty works in and through our lives.
- As you read your bible daily look for ways to apply what you have learned to your life. God will honor your faith & obedience, then you will begin to see life change.
- Sanctification is a process, so as God shows you changes that need to be made in your life, remember that He is doing so to become closer to you and for your good. The enemy tempts us towards disobedience to keep us from feeling and hearing God speak in our Spirit.
My prayer is for all of us to experience a close and intimate relationship with God. He wants to walk with us through life, and to give us purpose and fulfillment in it. Even though we may feel disconnected from God, He has made a way for us to gain a strong relationship with Him through His word. So if you too would like to grow closer with God, please pray with me now.
Heavenly Father, I come to You now in the name of Jesus, thanking You for all You have done for me. Thank You for saving me, and forgiving me for all of my sins. Thank You for Your love for me, and Your will to have a close relationship with me. I thank You for giving me a purpose in life and wanting for me to have true fulfillment. I thank You for all you have in store for me, and I trust in You for my future now. I pray that You would give me understanding of your word, and help me to apply it to my life. Please remove anything from my life that is not of You, and fill me up with more of Your truth. Let me be sensitive to Your Holy Spirit and hear Your guidance in my heart. Help me to become obedient to You so that I may hear You more clearly and grow in You. Thank You now in Jesus’ name, Amen.